Gosh, December is already over a third over. It’s been another kind of hectic month with a lot of bad news (funerals, dealing with family, all of that) so I’ve been trying to keep myself distracted and busy. And boy oh boy, have I been busy.

インディー通信 Indie Tsushin

A screenshot of the current Indie Tsushin blog.

インディー通信 Indie Tsushin: Highlighting indie games and developers from Japan!

The headline of the month has been the revival of the インディー通信 Indie Tsushin blog! Some of you may remember that I tried to make a blog earlier in the year where I introduced an indie game every day. That didn’t work out very well, as I got burned out almost immediately and ended up shuttering it only about a month later.

A screenshot of the old (2022 March-April) Indie Tsushin blog.

Thankfully, nobody remembers when the site used to look like this.

This time around, Indie Tsushin is focusing exclusively on games made by developers based in Japan, not just any cool game I happened across. I’ve also slowed down the pace to only a few articles per week, both so that I have more time to write longer pieces with more screenshots and to prevent burnout. I’m also branching out into interviewing developers (I am really pleased with how the interview with bunaguchi turned out) and covering game events like the ongoing Furige 2022 and the upcoming #Unity1Week game jam. (That last one opens tonight at midnight, by the way!) I am really proud of the work I’ve done so far, and I’m only just getting started.

A screenshot of a spread from an upcoming issue of Indie Tsushin, featuring an article about Shadow Break and Super Shadow Break.

A spread of the Shadow Break and Super Shadow Break article from my PDF mock-up of the upcoming 2022 December issue!

I’m planning to release a monthly zine that collects all of the articles that went up on the site during that period. It’s still obviously in the early stages, but the PDF mockups I have are really coming along, and I’m very excited to get them up. My goal for this was to 1) make something that looks decently nice and that I’d want to (maybe) print out copies for my own personal collection, and 2) relatively low-effort so that I can get them out every month without exhausting myself. If all goes according to plan, the zine should go up on December 30!

A screenshot of an ePub file open in Sigil. On the left side is the HTML code, and on the right is a preview panel for the page.

Tinkering with the files inside of an ePub using Sigil. The article being edited is the interview with bunaguchi.

I also recently learned that ePub files are basically just zipped-up HTML files and images. I taught myself how to use Sigil by just copy+pasting my website folders into an .epub file, and it worked beautifully with very little tweaking required. I also use calibre to manage my eBook library, and it has a function to convert .epub to .mobi while keeping all the images and styling intact. It’s a fairly simple process, and it makes it so nice to read on my Kindle! Naturally, I plan on having the zine available in ePub and MOBI versions as well.

Working on Indie Tsushin over the past couple of weeks has taught me a so much. First and foremost, it’s been a great opportunity to practice reading and translating Japanese to English. My writing skills have utterly deteriorated in the 14 years since I graduated university, but working on the site is a great excuse to just get words on paper. Tinkering with the site layout also made me (re-)learn enough HTML and CSS to stretch the default Zonelets layout into something a little more personal. (I liked my handiwork so much that I also gave this site an overhaul, as you may have noticed!) Even the photo for the cover and background of the zine PDF is an old photo I took a few years ago in Tokyo, so for future issues I am going to need to practice taking more pictures.

I might be jinxing myself by writing a progress report on Indie Tsushin after less than two weeks, but I can’t help it. I just had to toot my own horn for a bit. I think I deserve that much!

Other stuff

As I mentioned, working on Indie Tsushin also made me want to give this site an overhaul. One of the things I added was a Photos page with galleries of photos I took years ago. I’m still working on getting the 2015-2018 galleries up. Unfortunately, after 2018 I basically stopped taking pictures, at least on my “real” camera (i.e. not my phone). In 2023, I hope to be able to go on photo walks again and take more pictures.

I also added a Last.fm widget to the site, which is just such an early- to mid-2000s Web 1.0 thing to do. I’m trying to wean myself off of Spotify and its algorithm and get back into immersing myself in full albums again. I ripped a bunch of my favorite CDs to FLAC, bought and downloaded some cool albums on Bandcamp, installed MusicBee, and spent hours and hours (and HOURS) fixing my collection’s metadata. Just like with photography, I hope 2023 sees me listening to and appreciating a lot more music than I have over the past few years.

One album I picked up lately and have been listening on repeat is Jeong Lim Yang’s Zodiac Suite: Reassured, a reimagining of the classic Mary Lou Williams ground-breaking Zodiac Suite. I must admit that my musical tastes, like those of many people who are no longer teenagers, have calcified and stagnated. I originally resisted Reassured’s changes (at first it bothered me SO MUCH that it starts with Pisces and not Aries) but have since come around. I think I will always love the original Zodiac Suite more simply because it’s what I already know, but there is room in my heart for both.

And finally, I made a cohost! account and have been enjoying myself a lot there. It’s social media but without all the garbage! I liked it so much that I even made a page for Indie Tsushin.

Stuff I've read

I have read almost nothing since the last time I talked about short stories, ahhhh! I have a bunch of stuff earmarked to read but I have been so busy that I haven’t had the time. Hoping that the season turning dark and cold will inspire me to work less and snuggle up with a good book instead.